(Full Disclosure: My initial post on this subject probably went a little overboard, proving true my original first sentence, which read: “I should probably take a night to sleep on this before declaring my thoughts publicly.” Well, it didn’t even take a night to realize I was slightly overreacting.
This blog clearly needs someone to edit the editor every now and again.
After doing a little more reading of words perhaps more informed and reasonable than my own, I’m not quite as worked up as I was when I originally posted this. I am still disappointed, and I still think there needs to be some public accountability, but I’m not ready to jump off a bridge as it probably seemed when I first posted. So I have edited this post somewhat from its original version. Here ya go.)
According to a report posted Tuesday night at IndyStar.com by Mark Alesia, Indiana University self-reported an impermissible phone call made by assistant coach Roshown McLeon to 2009 IU signee Bawa Muniru. As a self-imposed punishment, Tom Crean and his assistants did not make any phone calls for a week in December. Here is an excerpt from the rather brief story by Alesia:
According to the report, when assistant coach Roshown McLeod left a voice mail for Muniru on Oct. 25, it was the school’s third call to him in a week — exceeding the NCAA limit by one.
Coach Tom Crean, who normally makes one call per week to recruits, placed two to Muniru — the Sunday and Wednesday before McLeod’s call on a Saturday.
The report said Crean “simply made a mistake,” thinking his Sunday call had counted against the previous week’s allotment. The athletic department’s compliance department discovered the violation.
There is no confirmation of when the compliance department discovered the illegal call. My assumption would be that it was in December during a routine check of the phone records and that the penalty was imposed immediately. Regardless, there are a couple of key questions that come to mind for me immediately:
- If the impermissible call was, in fact, found out about in December, it would have to have been at least five weeks after the call was made. Considering the catastrophic effects of illegal calls under the previous coach, why would Coach Crean and the compliance department not be doing constant audits of the phone records to ensure compliance?
- If the basketball program is conducting real-time audits of the phone records, and the impermissible call was caught immediately after it happened, then why did the self-imposed ban wait until December? Conveniently that would have pushed it to after the November signing period.
(Update: New post over at the Hoosier Report appears to clear these questions up some. The post provides a link to the self-report form. Seems like the Hoosier Report actually engaged in legit journalism, unlike me who just flew off the handle and published statements I later had to tone down. Here are the basics, according to the Hoosier Report:
“The report indicates that on October 25, Roshown McLeod made what was the third call of the week to Bawa Muniru. Tom Crean had made a call on that Sunday, and again on Wednedsay. Because of IU’s practice schedule, he thought the Sunday call had been made the previous day. IU found the violation on November 21, reported it on December 10, and imposed a sanction of no calls for a week in December. It sounds as if the staff has a good system for preventing these sorts of issues–the head coach and the responsible assistant each make no more than one call a week to a recruit–but it failed in this instance because of a misrecollection by Crean as to the date of the first call. McLeod made what he thought was his one call of the week, but he didn’t have it. Expect howling from the usual quarters, but I don ‘t think this is a major concern, just a major annoyance.”
Either way, I find it difficult to look the other way or play the “it’s only one call” card after what we went through almost exactly a year ago. An impermissible phone call? Seriously? For obvious reasons, of all the minor/secondary violations that could occur, this one is truly the most major of annoyances — at a minimum.
I know that it sounds worse that it probably is in reality, but “honest” mistake or not, I still think it’s unacceptable and I don’t understand why we are only hearing about this now.
The illegal phone call reportedly took place on October 25th and the program served its self-imposed suspension in December. It’s now February 24th, and according to the report by Alesia they obtained the report through a public records request. I would expect Tom Crean to explain this with full disclosure the moment he found out that an error had taken place. And to all those who say that these types of violations happen all the time, I say fine; but how often do they happen the year after a school sees its entire program crumble because of the same violation (albeit in a much higher quanity)?
That’s why I think there is ample reason to warrant an explanation from Crean.
Based on the circumstantial evidence, it sounds to me like Coach Crean and the basketball program hoped this would stay under the radar. I have read many message board posts tonight that suggest exactly what the IndyStar article says: that college basketball programs report minor recruiting violations all the time. Perhaps this is so, and I’m a little out of touch. Still, I just think that considering the circumstances, Crean and IU should been out in front of this one, even if they thought it would stay quiet.
I’m glad I decided to stay up and edit this because my original post does seem a little unreasonable now that I’ve gotten over the shock of seeing “Indiana”, “Tom Crean”, and “recruiting violations involving phone calls” in the same story. I am just quite passionate about the integrity of Indiana basketball and the continued rebuilding of the reputation and commitment to rules and ethics that defined IU athletics under Bob Knight and Bill Mallory while I was growing up. In fact, I care about that much more than winning, and I believe that we must repair our basketball program’s broken code of ethics before we can even think of rebuilding the proud tradition of excellence on the floor.
I have been firmly in Tom Crean’s corner every second of his tenure so far. I have kept my expectations in check for wins and losses this year, and have been vocal in staying positive and upbeat during the least successful on-court season in the history of the program.
But I will not keep my expectations in check for integrity.
IU fans and non-IU fans can rationalize this “just one call” any way they like and say it’s not a big deal. And in the grand scheme of things, maybe it’s not. Shoot, for all I know little slip-ups like this may very well have occurred under Coach Knight. As the IndyStar article says, “schools routinely turn themselves in for minor violations of the NCAA’s complicated rules.”
Well guess what? Most schools in most seasons are not struggling to tread water in the wake of a horrific ethics scandal that rocked the foundation of their once proud and integrity-filled program; but that is where Indiana’s basketball program currently finds itself. And it means there is a different level of accountability, in my opinion.
The combination of time, location, and circumstance implore an unyielding and impermeable commitment to airtight intregity. Based on this report, a violation slipped through. I don’t think anything happened that is egregious or that Tom Crean should be tarred and feathered for; and, as some over at Peegs have suggested tonight, Crean and IU perhaps should even be getting some amount of credit for reporting the violation in the first place.
Under normal circumstances this would not really be a huge deal to me considering the realities of college basketball recruiting, but I still think that given the circumstances of the last year, even a violation this “minor” should have been followed by explanation and full disclosure at the time. I am probably in the minority in thinking this, but so be it.
What do you think?
Luckily I didn’t fall asleep before I could edit what was probably not a very well thought out post originally. I’m still disappointed that even a minor violation had to be reported, and I believe that Tom Crean should address this soon — hopefully after an IU win over Northwestern tonight. More than anything, I think I’m just still pissed at the ass clown who was coaching here before, the one who created the mess that made me cry wolf as my first instinct upon reading the IndyStar story tonight.
My main source of excitement all year long has been the promise of moving forward and closing the door on the immediate past. What I read tonight immediately swung that door back open and brought everything from last year right back to the forefront of my mind. Hopefully with time that knee jerk reaction will subside.
All I want is to believe beyond any doubt that IU is back to playing completely by the rules and taking steps each day towards banner #6. For a moment tonight that belief was shaken, for what I really hope is the last time.